Here in South Florida, we’re known for warm, crystal clear waters, and that’s what makes these waters perfect for fishing, snorkeling, and so many other fun activities.
Helping South Florida’s coastal waters stay healthy, clean and beautiful is something every boater can do. The small, mindful actions we take today can help to safeguard these waters for our children and many more generations to come. As people who love life on the water, it’s vitalfor us to be stewards of our marine environment, taking care of it and teaching our children to respect and care for it too.
Read on for six tips to help you be an environmentally-friendly boater.
Pick up litter (even if it’s not yours!)
A good rule of thumb is that everything you bring out on the boat should come back with you. This includes not just garbage, but also leftover food. Don’t let cans, bottles, bags or wrappers blow overboard while you’re cruising around. We recommend bringing a small garbage bag with
you to hold your trash.
If you’d like to do your own litter pick-up, bring along an extra garbage bag or two, gloves and a trash grabber to snap up floating bits of trash when you see them. Keep a keen out along mangroves and sandbars for floating culprits. The water will thank you by being crystal clear and turquoise.
Pack re-usable containers for drinks and snacks
At Gulfstream Boat Club, any trash you bring back to the dock we’ll be happy to dispose of or recycle for you. But the best way to combat trash in our water is to make none in the first place!
An easy way to avoid litter on your boat (and litter back on land) is to pack your snacks and drinks in reusable containers. Resealable silicone bags, snap-lid food containers, and reusable water bottles and tumblers are your best bet.
Watch your depth (keep your engine out of the grass)
Keeping an eye on your depth will not only save your hull and propeller, but will protect wildlife that thrives in shallow waters. Sea-grass and coral reefs play an essential role in keeping the water clean of debris as well as supporting wildlife by acting as both a food source and a hunting ground.
When sea-grass is healthy and untouched it’s great at helping to filter sediment out of the water, keeping it crystal clear and turquoise. It also makes a great hiding spot for fish so instead of driving through sea-grass, try casting a line through it instead and see if you can catch dinner!
Take only pictures, leave only ripples
As you cruise the Intracoastal, you’ll notice signs along the way asking you to watch your speed and look out for manatees. These gentle giants are a delight to see up close but they’re also notoriously slow swimmers who struggle to keep out of the way of fast moving boats.
Be ready with your camera or a pair of binoculars to take a closer look at wildlife rather than motoring into their space. Sometimes you can see a lot more if you give animals a wide berth and let them go about their business. When you’re fishing, try not to injure or kill any fish you’re not planning on eating. When you’re snorkeling or diving, leave stars, shells and corals
untouched and in the water where they belong.
Choose reef-safe sun protection
Sunscreen is essential for protecting our skin out on the water, but some ingredients have been proven to be harmful to aquatic wildlife, especially corals. Avoid sunscreens that include ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate. Instead, choose sunscreens that are biodegradable, and contain mineral ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
You can double-down on sun protection by also wearing UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) clothing. Whether you’re spending the day in or on the water, wearing protective clothing means you won’t have to continually reapply your sunblock.
Boaters in South Florida have some wonderful options for getting involved, both on and off the water. There are many organizations looking out for our coastal waters that do great hands-on work with conservation and preservation, publish important research, work collaboratively with
local and state government, and have events and opportunities for the general public to get involved.
Whether you want to provide broader support or help a specific area or effort, some local not-for-profits we think are doing a great job include: Captains for Clean Water , Bonefish & Tarpon Trust , Miami Waterkeeper , and Debris Free Oceans.
There are many ways to be a good steward of our marine environment, and these tips can help you get started.
Contact us to rent a boat and get out on the water!